In Patti Cakes, Danielle Macdonald played an obese New Jersey girl who wanted to make it as a rapper, however unlikely this seemed to some (including her unsupportive mother, who was a lounge singer in her day). In the similar-sounding Dumplin’, McDonald plays an obese Texas girl who decides to compete in a beauty contest, however curious pr ill-conceived this sems to some (including her mother, who runs the beauty pageant in question).
Thursday, 11.15, 1:40 pm — 57th Street and Seventh Ave. It took me a little while to recover from Mary, Queen of Scots. I ducked into a market/food bar joint a few doors down from Carnegie Hall. I scooped up some hot steaming vittles and waited in line to pay.
HE to cashier: “Where’s the cutlery?”
Cashier to HE: “Duh whah?”
HE to cashier: “Forks and spoons?”
Cashier to HE: “Sullabaugh.”
HE to cashier: “What?”
Cashier to HE: “Sullabaugh.”
I walked in the direction of where she was pointing, but I couldn’t imagine what a “sullabaugh” might be. I looked and looked…nothing. I turned and looked back at the cashier, and then caught her eye.
HE to cashier: “I still don’t see any knives and forks!”
Cashier to HE: “Sullabaugh!”
A light went on.
HE to cashier: “Oh, you mean salad bar? Fine, sorry, I’m stupid. Thank you!”
A couple of days ago a group of Hollywood heavy-htters — Leonardo DiCaprio, Paul Thomas Anderson, Chris “2001 desecration artist” Nolan, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Rian Johnson, Karyn Kusama and Damien Chazelle, among others — sent a letter sent to Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich, asking that he use his influence to plea with WarnerMedia and AT&T to reconsider pulling the plug on FilmStruck.
Excerpt: “The FilmStruck service was (IS) the best streaming service for fans of cinema of all kinds: classic studio movies, independent cinema, international treasures. Without it, the landscape for film fans and students of cinema is especially bleak. There’s a reason there was a huge outpouring from artists and fans over it being shuttered, they were doing the Movie God’s work.”
Hollywood Elsewhere appreciates the above-named artists using a possessive conjugation of the HE term “Movie God.” It’s actually supposed to be used in the plural — there are several Movie Gods just as there are several Greek Gods residing atop Mount Olympus — and the proper spelling is “Movie Godz.” If you’re going to use the term, fine, but get it right.
Unless the AT&T baddies change their mind, the Filmstruck curtain will come down on 11.29.
Thursday, 9:05 am: Enroute to a screening of Mary, Queen of Scots. Can’t seem to connect MacBook Pro to iPhone internet, but I was half-taken by the trailer for Disney’s live-action Dumbo. The problem is that while I bought a flying baby elephant in the animated Disney original, I can’t accept it in a live-action context. I appreciate the effort, but something inside me says “nope.”
The forthcoming Ben Wheatley adaptation of Daphne du Maurier‘s Rebecca, for all intents and purposes a remake of Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1940 Oscar winner, can’t possibly blend with contemporary mindsets. The patronizing old-school sexism and upper-class chauvinism that Joan Fontaine‘s character was subjected to (and was so intimidated by) will seem ludicrous by today’s standards. And Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter, sure to be processed alongside the original performance by Laurence Olivier? Beaten before the attempt is even made.
Sometime in 2019 a slightly more explicit version of Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho will reportedly be offered by a German video distributor, either as a Bluray or streaming file or whatever. Nothing breathtaking is included — it’s just a tad more explicit than the prudish U.S. cut.
Apparently this version, which almost shows a little Janet Leigh sideboob in the Bates Motel peep scene, was sent to Germany some 58 years ago. The German cut also shows a bewigged Anthony Perkins stabbing Martin Balsam three times, or twice more than in the U.S. version. There’s also some bathroom clean-up footage that’s slightly more specific.
Universal Home Video should issue a new Psycho Bluray with this footage, of course, but they should also (a) remaster it in 4K and (b) offer an alternate boxy version (1.37:1) — the current Universal Bluray slices off acres and acres of visual information with an unnecessary 1.85 aspect ratio.
In 50 words or less, please explain the core reason for the apparently insatiable appetite for deadpan graphic horror among millennials. Why the endless fascination with rage, blood spatterings and psychotic brutality on one hand, and a relatively unenthusiastic attitude about elevated horror (i.e., The Witch, Hereditary, The Babadook), which people like me tend to favor.
HE theory: Two and a half years ago I posted a piece titled “Where Are Angry, Despairing Millenial Dramas?” The idea was that millennials have as much reason to feel despair and anger as England’s kitchen-sink dramatists and filmmakers did in the late ’50s and early ’60s. But they’re not watching or making many films that portray or echo their experience. Theatrically they’re into FX-driven superhero films, dumbshit comedies, horror, etc.
Perhaps on some level horror films are, in their heads, a kind of metaphorical kitchen-sink realm. I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, but maybe.
“Dunk on Me,” a two-week-old music video by the New York-area band Blood Cultures, is an example of non-elevated horror, to put it mildly. “Dark, brooding electro-pop…combining equal parts psychedelic textures and dance-worthy beats…the music produced is as murky and obscure as its creator’s true identity.” — NME.
I’ve long regarded Karina Longworth‘s You Must Remember This as the most soothingly intelligent podcast of its type. Old Hollywood excursions, I mean. Soft-spoken but frank, sifting through historical sands, mildly sassy, hitting the refresh button, analysis and perspective, etc. It gives you a kind of Percocet with hot herbal tea feeling.
I was going to settle into her latest, a piece about Yvonne DeCarlo and a portrait of Howard Hughes as the original #MeToo predator, but reading Sophie Gilbert‘s Atlantic profile persuaded me to dive in this evening.
Excerpt: “Since Longworth started podcasting in 2014, You Must Remember This has found a cult following. Part old-timey radio show, part reportorial deep dive, it picks lovingly at the stars in the Old Hollywood firmament.
“Longworth has brought a new perspective to some of the most overexposed stories and characters in film history, producing chronicles that incorporate her narration and research with fragments of actors reproducing real dialogue. But she’s also introduced a new generation of cinephiles to less-enduring actors like Linda Darnell and Olive Thomas, giving credence to women whose talent and biographies were buried. With an academic’s approach to research and a critic’s eye for quality, Longworth interrogates Old Hollywood: its myths, its icons, its injustices.
Legendary award-season event maestro Peggy Siegal threw a Green Book luncheon today at Bice Cucina (62 W. 55th Street). The whole gang was there — director Peter Farrelly, Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, costar Joe Cortese, co-screenwriter Brian Hayes Currie, musical score composer Kris Bowers, producer John Sloss. Plus a lot of familiar journalistic faces — Roger Friedman, Michael Musto, Stephen Schaefer, Bill McCuddy, etc.
This morning I posted the frankest and most concise summary of Green Book I’ve ever read, heard or crafted in my own head: “It’s a smoothly finessed period cocktail that washes all the Trumpian toxicity right out of your system.”
Crabby critics like Bob Strauss can snort and harumph and roll their eyes all they want, but that’s exactly what this perfectly crafted neck-massage film does. Just because it feels “old-fashioned” (i.e., it could’ve been made 20 or 30 years ago) doesn’t mean it’s not the cat’s meow for all the right reasons.
It’s also, I feel, one of the most effective love stories I’ve ever opened myself up to since…well, a long while. For a couple of hours, at least, it makes you feel imbued and soothed about human nature. Does that feeling gradually soften and fuzz out when you emerge from the screening room? Well, yeah, but what doesn’t? Plus you can always watch it again. I’ve seen Green Book three times now.
The Universal release opens on 11.16.
(l. to r.) Green Book director-cowriter Peter Farrelly, co-screenwriter Nick Vallalonga, Mahershala Ali, Viggo Mortensen, co-screenwriter Brian Hayes Curry.
Green Book music composer Kris Bowers, who did a beautiful job. Like all great scores, it (a) watches the movie along with you, and (b) takes good care of you.
As one who embraced sobriety six and a half years ago, I understand that no one can step in and save a drunk from self-destructing — the drunk has to man up and do it himself (or herself). I also believe this episode shouldn’t have any effect upon Academy voting for the Best Cinematography Oscar. Libatique’s lensing of A Star Is Born is (or at least was) arguably in contention for this honor. If the work merits a nomination then it merits a nomination — period.
Nonetheless Indiewire is reporting that Polish prosecutors have charged Libatique with “assaulting public officials, which is punishable by a prison sentence of up to three years under Polish law.”
If Libatique had been arrested for assault against a wife or girlfriend, he’d be in deep shit right now with the #MeToo Robespierres. Thank God he only clobbered a Polish medical worker and a couple of cops — small potatoes.
A New York “Intelligencer” piece by Sasha Issenberg (“Maybe It’s Time For America To Split Up?“) has taken a serious look at cutting the red states loose and creating a sensible, solid-blue America that wouldn’t be hindered by racist bumblefuck obstinacy — an old HE fantasy. The difference is that Issenberg is envisioning a three-federation system — Blue, Red and Neutral.
In a 3.15.13 riff titled “Common Knowledge,” I wrote that “the best thing that could happen all around would be to create a separate nation among the Midwestern and Southern areas of this country — just cut the yokels off and let them raise their own revenues and nurture their retro beliefs, values and prejudices. They’re just a drag on the rest of the country and the sooner Red America is cut loose, the better for the rest of us. Seriously.
“This isn’t the 1860s. Our borders are secure, we have nuclear weapons, and nobody’s going to invade. We can be two countries and make out just fine. Yugoslavia broke up into two or three chunks and they’re doing okay. Czechoslovakia became two nations and they’re holding it together. We could create our out Czech Republic — a Blue America — and let the ‘Slovakians’ have their own. I’m perfectly serious here. Get rid of the dumbshits and a lot of the nation’s big problems will become much more managable.”
Originally posted on 4.6.12: In her review of George Roy Hill‘s The Sting, Pauline Kael asked, “What is this movie about anyway?” Answer: Emotional comfort in the form of assured professional craft. It’s about conning people into caring about a shallow story with no themes or subcurrents whatsoever. It’s about keeping them intrigued even though the good-guy con artists have the upper hand all the way.
The Chicago Limited poker-game scene is the most satisfyingly shot and performed scene of its type in Hollywood history because it’s not about poker, but about two cheats trying to out-fuck each other. Paul Newman‘s smug and rascally confidence is key, but the whole thing really depends upon Robert Shaw‘s seething rage — the scene wouldn’t play without it. It’s all about boiling blood.
I can watch this scene all day long and never get bored because it’s perfectly shot, acted, lighted and timed. It’s the kind of thing that big-studio movies used to do really well. The emphasis was just so.
In 2008 director Rob Cohen (The Fast and The Furious) told the following story to reporter Germain Lussier of the Times Herald, a Hudson Valley newspaper:
“I was a reader for 100 bucks a week for a big agent named Mike Medavoy, who went on to be a studio head and producer,” Cohen began. “Mike put me in this cubbyhole and they hadn’t had a reader in about a month and the backup was enormous in this agency because I was reading scripts for all the agents. So I was in this little cubbyhole piled floor to ceiling with unread scripts and I began to develop a little code unto myself. Like ‘I will never read two scripts in a row with yellow covers.’ Or ‘On Wednesday, I only read scripts with blue covers.’